Provocative Holocaust exhibit, “Deadly Medicine,” coming to UA

International Hygiene Exhibition, 1911 promotional poster. The eugenics movement pre-dated Nazi Germany. A 1911 exhibition at the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden included a display on human heredity and ideas to improve it. The exhibition poster features the Enlightenment’s all-seeing eye of God, adapted from the ancient Egyptian “Eye of Ra,” symbolizing fitness or health. (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

The Nazi regime was known for devising scientific theories to prop up its drive to perfect an “Aryan master race,” which led to the murder of millions of Jews and others during the Holocaust. “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race,” a traveling exhibition produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, will be presented in Tucson Jan. 18 to March 29 at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Library.

“You Are Sharing the Load! A Hereditarily Ill Person Costs 50,000 Reichsmarks on Average up to the Age of Sixty,” reproduced in a high school biology textbook by Jakob Graf. The image illustrates Nazi propaganda on the need to prevent births of the “unfit.”(United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

“‘Deadly Medicine’ shows how the Nazi regime under Adolph Hitler aimed to change the genetic make-up of the population through measures known as ‘racial hygiene’ or ‘eugenics,’ and the role that scientists in the biomedical fields — especially anthropologists, psychiatrists and geneticists, these were all medically trained experts — played in legitimizing these policies and helping to implement them,” says the exhibit’s curator, Dr. Susan Bachrach.

From 1933 to 1945 and the end of World War II, “Nazi racial hygiene was radicalized and there was a shift from controlling reproduction and marriage to simply eliminating persons regarded as biological threats,” she continues. The “Deadly Medicine” exhibit examines how the Nazi leadership collaborated with individuals in traditionally healing professions to subvert science, in an attempt to legitimize persecution, murder and ultimately genocide.

“‘Deadly Medicine’ demonstrates the far-reaching consequences of the Shoah as they relate to law, public policy and medical ethics. We are excited about the space this exhibit opens up for students and professionals in these areas and for the general public to reflect on human rights and medical ethics,” says Bryan Davis, director of the Holocaust Education and Commemoration Project at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.

“The exhibit is of great interest to me because of my unique connection to the Tucson Jewish community, my experience taking kids to Poland and Israel on March of the Living trips and my medical background,” says Ron Grant, director of the medical humanities program at the UA College of Medicine, who was approached by health sciences library staff about hosting the exhibit.

“Deadly Medicine” is presented in partnership with the Arizona Health Sciences Library, the UA College of Medicine Program in Medical Humanities and the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. A community reception cosponsored by JFSA’s Jewish Community Relations Council and the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies will be held at the health sciences library on Jan. 23 at 4 p.m.
Teachers are welcome to organize field trips to the exhibit. For more information and a listing of events planned in conjunction with the exhibit, contact Jeanette Ryan at 626-6143 or jlr@ahsl.arizona.edu.